What is it? Possibly the apex of Sanrio‘s cross-media synergy-blitz that has seen them slap the cold, vacant stare of their brand-leading cash cow, Hello Kitty, on to every conceivable kind of consumer merchandise including vibrators (sorry, massagers), assault rifles, tampons, condoms, urinal cakes, cars, computers, booze and pet costumes.
Who uses it? Lisa Loeb, who now appears to be managed by Hello Kitty (see facts below!), will probably have to sing the praises of the instrument for the rest of her life. Both Courtney Love and Frances Bean Cobain are said to own Hello Kitty guitars, as is ex-Go-Go’s legend Jane Wiedlin. It’s not just for girls, though, brand-conscious boy-metallers like Linkin Park and Abigail Williams are totally unafraid when it comes to strumming the kitten.
How does it work? It’s a guitar. If you know how to play guitar, you know how to look like a dork with one of these things.
Where does it come from? The most marketed Hello Kitty guitar is the Squire model, based on the classic Fender Stratocaster, except with just one humbucker pick-up rather than the usual three single-coils. It comes in black or pink, and in both full-size and miniature models. There is also a collector’s edition Japan-only guitar, made by Fernandes, featuring a built-in speaker, which matey from Bloc Party is fond of pouting about with while miming on TV.
Why is it classic? We assume by “classic“ you mean “all kinds of wrong”. The one palpable advantage of the instrument is that it could make the guitar accessible and appealing to young girls in the same way that Guitar Hero has done (kind of) for young boys. A scan of YouTube, however, reveals that Hello Kitty’s core audience is actually balding, middle-aged men, shredding out covers of Yngwie Malmsteen and Rush. It’s almost reassuring that Hello Kitty cuteness still carries some obvious currency with gratingly solipsistic goth and emo girls.
What’s the best ever Hello Kitty guitar song? This speccy little chap, dedicating his lovelorn Concretes cover to “Victoria“, should be who the guitar was designed for, but this Daniel Johnston-esque ode to the Hello Kitty guitar is the best.
Five facts and things!
Lisa Loeb flopped big-time with her 2002 album Cake and Pie. Inking a deal with Sanrio, she attempted to salvage her career by renaming the album Hello Lisa, with new artwork featuring Hello Kitty-wearing Loeb‘s signature geek-chic specs, and embarking on a tour of Sanrio stores.
Pursuing the girl-pop market, Sanrio went on to sponsor Aly & AJ’s 2007 tour, kitting them out with a über-twee Hello Kitty tourbus.
Hello Kitty air guitars are also popular with men old enough to know better.
OK, so you’ve got your Hello Kitty guitar, but your mates want in on the action. Start a Hello Kitty bands with these Hello Kitty mini baby grand and roll-up pianos.
What if you want cartoon-cute without little-girls-bedroom-pink overload? Spongebob Squarepants also has a line of mini guitars, ukuleles and tiny drumkits.